Friday, January 11, 2013

Part II: Is It Safe? The 787 Is Receiving An Endoscope From The FAA

A No Picture Blog This Time:

While the NTSB is going through charred remains of an Japan Airlines 787 electrical control systems, and its Lithium Ion Batteries in an effort to summarize, "what just happened here!" The FAA is going to conduct a comprehensive examination, and further testing of suspect parts, programs and processes found on the 787. The press would like to cry out in A# The Chicken Little Symphony in B-Flat. The first symphony of "So Many Faults In So Little Time", was received well in news outlets around the World.

However, back to the FAA.  Boeing is breathing a sigh collective relief because, Qatar's chief did not dog pile on the events.  The government expressed confidence in these 787's, as a safe airplanes.  Boeing is trying to keep quiet as much as possible and not say something stupid, like "it wasn't me"!  When all the Lithium Ions settle, I expect something beneficial for Boeing, Airlines, and the Flying public, will come out well from this episodic turn of events.  Boeing, please embrace the FAA like a proud father has for his son when he takes a drug test to play sports. Show off everything you have done to make sure nothing bad would happen. Find out what happened, kick the guy that said outsourcing is the only way to fly.  Boeing, you have a great airplane, but you don't own it.  Your subcontractors own it.  Too bad, had you owned more of it, less of that would have happened.  Do you really know what you are snapping into place each time a 787 is assembled, or are you relying on your family of contractors, to do it right as you had hoped?  That's what the FAA will find out, is how well did the world do, doing its job building the parts for your airplane.  Now you own it, where the  subcontractor's Mea culpa is a weak fall back point for a very proud company.

Take  a look at what's in play:  From the Kansas City Star

If it made the Star, then its already around the world more than twice.

"The Federal Aviation Administration is conducting a comprehensive review of the design, manufacture and assembly of the Boeing 787, but government officials declared the plane safe despite recent incidents, including a fire and a fuel leak earlier this week.
Michael Huerta, the FAA administrator, said at a news conference Friday that there is nothing in the data the agency has seen to suggest the plane isn’t safe, but the agency wants to figure out why the safety-related incidents are occurring."
Boeing just received the FAA "Big Duh".  Now they want to know whats going on with the 787.  I say great, because then Boeing will help out in a big way, with... "what's up with that", and FAA should find out how outsourcing so much was possible, in the movie, "A Bridge Too Far".

If I had answers I would certainly offer it as it would immensely increase the blog following.  It's my desire to come up with a plausible outcome for the 787.  So here comes my obligatory talking points on what the FAA will find and will recommend without knowing what is going on.  Top ten Findings  and recommendations as follows:


  • The company responsible for faulty systems, did not address any issues with Boeing during development
  • Boeing installed and tested systems to the best of its ability without having an over-all conceptual or origination knowledge at the level of the supplier systems when testing. Even though contractor worked along side with Boeing engineers, Boeing was not intimate with the functioning of each systems installed.
  • Boeing relied on the expertise of the contractor rather than assessing all designs with an internal 3rd party review. 
  • Faulty parts, systems and technology is passing through to assembly. ie (bad circuit boards)
  • Boeing's electrical systems in theory are safe, but in practice lack quality controls required for its sophistication.
Being an internal auditor in my prior life, these are some of the nose bleed statements that the FAA may make after its comprehensive review. I will go on with some mock recommendations which are forth coming from the Pretend FAA.

Possible Recommendations:

It is recommended,
  • Boeing should have assurance testing prior to installation of all foreign parts coming into its system.
  • Boeing must make additional safety containment from fires in battery area(s)
  • All incidence reports resulting in faulty parts, installation or applications on new aircraft in first year of service, must have a six month assurance testing validating the replacement parts, systems and installations replaced as a result of a fault.
  • Supply Chain Components must have validation and authentication from supplier of its compliant functions. In other words, the supplier proves it meets all standards with comprehensive testing before shipping.(Bad Circuit Boards were shipped)
  • Automatic fuel-line cutoff when a disconnect is detected

Even though this a is make-believe audit summary report, it shows what the FAA may do ad- nauseum. Even though Boeing is already doing more, however, the question still remains how did all these faults happen in the last three months?  The FAA is that extra set of eyes with a keen interest in the aircraft. They flew with it, accompanied its development, and is probably the worlds second most authority on the 787. So they need answers, and so does Boeing!  They will team-up and make all doubters go away at the end of the day.  All the press wants to do is sell copy, and Boeing is helping them do that.

I am hoping its a few sloppy items creeping through the new production and technology systems that need cleaning up. Even small items leave a big mark on a big airplane and they shouldn't be over-looked.